Lawyers for former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have asked that he be allowed to communicate electronically again after he was barred from doing so in January. The request came in a letter sent to US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Louis A. Kaplan, after prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried may have engaged in witness tampering.
In return for allowing Bankman-Fried to monitor the communications, his lawyers say they will not fight an order that prevents him from transferring assets related to FTX and Alameda Research.
Federal prosecutors said in a four-page filing that the former billionaire, who is currently facing life in prison on fraud and conspiracy charges, attempted to contact Ryne Miller, the general counsel of FTX US, through the encrypted messaging app Signal.
“I’d really like to reconnect and see if there’s a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources when possible, or at least check things out with each other,” says Bankman-Fred, US Attorney.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark S. Cohen and Christian R. Everdale, now that they have reached an agreement on Bankman-Fried’s bail terms after the government exempted certain individuals from the proposed no-contact clause.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney asked Judge Kaplan to allow the use of FaceTime, iMessage, Zoom, SMS texts, email, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“The defendant is not allowed to use WhatsApp unless monitoring technology is installed on his mobile phone which automatically records and saves all WhatsApp communications,” the letter reads.
In the original order barring Bankman-Fried from using messaging applications, Bankman-Fried was specifically ordered not to use any encrypted or “ephemeral” communication or messaging applications, including but not limited to Signal.
Short-lived messaging apps allow users to set a time limit for how long a message can stay in the app. Signal, for example, allows custom time limits ranging from 30 seconds to four weeks. While the feature can be used for nefarious purposes, journalists and activists also use these features to communicate while reducing the chance of their communications being intercepted by rogue states.
On December 12, 2022, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the United States a week later. The US Department of Justice charged Bankman Fried with eight counts of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy.